As I hang out in London mainlining a steady stream of cups of tea with honey, it occurs to me that perhaps I could share a story about being ill while travelling and general advice for dealing with illness while away.
I’ve mentioned this in the past: I’ve travelled a lot. Sometimes it’s been for long stretches of time (6 months, or 3 months a few times), and with the additional stress on your body, illnesses happen.
Between walking huge distances every day (I often carry a pedometer and walking 30,000 steps a day, 20km, is not unusual while exploring a new city), different and inconsistent meals, jetlag, as well as exposure to different viruses and bacteria, your body often takes a battering and succumbs to illness.
Picture this: I was in China, in Kunming. I needed to send a package back to Australia.
Now, Beijing gets a lot of tourists, so your odds of finding someone who speaks English aren’t too bad. Kunming, however, has hardly ANY English speakers.
I was staying in a hotel, and had put a package together to send in a bag. So, I headed to a post office a few doors down. Pointing at the bag of stuff they understood that I wanted to send a package and sold me a box. Score, they were being really helpful. Then I started writing the address on top, including the Chinese for Australia. I was pretty proud of myself for learning that, and especially how to say it.
A few years ago, I went to Amsterdam for the weekend. Knowing I didn’t have any accommodation booked, I arrived on a Friday afternoon in the middle of summer. I’m generally a pretty lucky person, so I figured it’d be ok, I’d stay at a hostel or something. They always have beds, right? Not so. Apparently all the usual suspects from my hostel guide were completely booked for the weekend. I got turned away time and time again, until I was left sitting outside the main train station, contemplating how comfortable the benches would be to sleep on. I’m sure I started looking a little homeless, too.